USAID in Africa

April 16, 2010 By Jordan Smith

Continued U.S. engagement is vital to the stability and economic well-being of troubled regions across the globe. This is perhaps nowhere truer than in Africa, where some of the countries least responsible for global environmental concerns are likely to be hardest hit by its consequences. Testifying before the Subcommittee on African Affairs and Global Health, Franklin Moore, USAID’s Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Africa, said that “Climate change is expected to exacerbate conflicts over resources, while contributing to increases in local and regional migration that will place further demands on ecosystems, governments, and societies.” In other words, climate change will not just be a humanitarian problem, it will be a security crisis. And one that, in a globalized age, can have effects on the American homeland.  “Governments that do not or cannot respond adequately to climate-related challenges will erode the perception of their effectiveness and legitimacy and undermine their own stability, while a steady buildup of environmental problems coupled with ongoing social or economic challenges may trigger instability and population movements,” said Moore.

USAID and other development programs the U.S. employs can have a tangible effect—if not solving, then mitigating these crises. “USAID’s democracy and governance programs that support public awareness, research, public administration, advocacy, and the adoption and enforcement of laws and policies can help countries prepare for and cope with climate change,” said Moore. USAID will work with civil society groups across the African continent to ensure that local traditions are respected and utilized, even while bringing new approaches to solving health, economic and environmental problems. “Without effective adaptation to climate change, Africa will only see the contributors to hunger, disease, and conflict increase. But if we work together to address climate change across every sector, we can forge a way forward that not only prepares Africa’s most vulnerable people to cope with new pressures, but also creates better opportunities, better living conditions, and better lives.” That’s good for Africa—and good for Americans here at home.

Another witness, Jonathon Pershing, the Deputy Special Envoy for Climate Change, noted that the President’s FY2011 Budget requests about $1.4 billion for international climate efforts, to be spent through the Department of State, Department of Treasury, and USAID. He said that approximately 20% of State and USAID climate assistance funds in FY2010, and around 30% of the total in the FY2011 Budget, will benefit African countries.